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Daniel Dromm

Ydanis Rodriguez Bill Would Let NYC’s Press Corps Park for Free

City Council Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez thinks the city's press corps needs a special break: He's proposing legislation that would exempt drivers with press plates from paying at meters or obeying time limits.

"The news business should have the same privileges as every other business," Rodriguez said in a release before today's City Hall press conference, wrongly implying that every other business in New York gets a free parking pass.

Rodriguez, who said today that he hoped the bill would gain the support of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and expressed confidence that it would garner a veto-proof majority, was joined this morning by fellow council members Laurie Cumbo, Daniel Dromm, and Corey Johnson.

I asked Rodriguez if he would give up his parking placard, like State Senator Tony Avella does each year. "I believe that having placard parking is important," Rodriguez said, saying it came in handy when he drove to the scene of the East Harlem building explosion last year. "I believe that having a parking placard, as other people have -- teachers have it, police officers have it, council members have it -- people from the media should also have it."

The legislation would not actually give parking placards to the media, but would exempt them from meters and time limits. (Currently, press plates give special parking privileges in areas marked for NYP plates, typically near courthouses and other government buildings.) As part of its crackdown on parking abuse, the Bloomberg administration eliminated this perk for the city's press in 2009. Governor Cuomo also cut down on placards around the same time.

The New York Press Photographers Association has been leading the charge to restore this privilege. Association board member Robert Roth said the de Blasio administration has not set up a meeting to discuss a change in policy, despite multiple requests -- which is why the association turned to the City Council.

The press parking giveaway is the latest in a string of questionable moves by Rodriguez, who reappointed a notorious street safety opponent to Manhattan Community Board 12, proposed a massive taxpayer-funded bailout of taxi medallion owners, and supports legislation to address the non-existent problem of texting cyclists.

The press is already among the city's most flagrant parking violators. Press vehicles regularly park on the sidewalk -- without receiving tickets -- near courthouses in Lower Manhattan, a practice Roth did not endorse. Roth didn't have any information on how many tickets NYPD issues to press vehicles each year.

Matthew Chayes of Newsday asked Rodriguez if he was worried about the potential for abuse by members of the media who would park for free at meters while on personal business. "We have to legislate knowing that we are working with an adult population. People are responsible," Rodriguez said. "We are legislating what we believe is the right thing for the city."

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